Philosophy

This discussion post #2  (2 points)  is based on the reality and value assumptions you already identified in the documentary “Half the Sky:  Part I”, as well as anything else you remember from that documentary and from class discussion about the documentary.  You should try to arrange some of the reality and value assumptions that you identified in the movie, into an argument by using standard form.  What argument might be implied by this documentary – either by one segment of the 3 segments we watched, or all 3 segments taken as a whole.  Although I recommend that you try to identify and set up, in standard form, an argument of Nicholas Kristoff, it also possible to identify and set up, in standard form, an argument by other people that appear in the documentary.  See the further instructions and tips below as to how to proceed with this post.

 INSTRUCTIONS AS TO HOW TO PROCEED WITH THIS POST:

 

First try to identify a conclusion.  What is Nicholas Kristoff proposing, or what is his position that he is trying to defend or put forth?  This could be a possible conclusion.  The conclusion may or may not be explicitly stated.   You are reconstructing an argument, in which case, you do not need to rely only on direct quotes.  There is no argument if there is no conclusion.

Secondly, identify those assumptions that might provide support for this conclusion (as premises) and put them into standard form.

P1 (premise 1) (reasons that support the conclusion; “because”)

P2 (premise 2)

P3 (premise 3), etc.

C:  Conclusion  (Therefore,….)

 

Thirdly, identify further evidence for some of those assumptions that you have listed as main premises, and use this further evidence to set up sub-arguments within the standard form.  This further evidence may be more concrete, such as examples or statistics.

 

P1a (further evidence for P1; called a sub-premise)

P1b (further evidence for P1

P1  (premise 1, now being treated as a sub-conclusion for the above evidence;  Therefore…)

P2a (further evidence  for P2)

P2b (further evidence for P2), etc.

P2 (premise 2, now being treated as a sub-conclusion for the above evidence;  Therefore…)

P3 (premise 3)

C:  Conclusion (Therefore,…)

 

 

Examples of standard form (pp.  76, 134, 136) can be found in the text. However, sub-argument cannot be found in the text; an example of an argument in standard form which includes one sub-argument (using slightly different notation) can be found in the electronic reserves reading assignment, “Thinking Clearly” by Jill LeBlanc. 

 

 TIPS FOR DOING THE POST: 

1) Remember that the documentary might include material that is not part of an argument, and, therefore, you may leave it out, or, if it is relevant to one premise of the argument, include it as part of a sub-argument.

2) Do not simply “retell a story” – your premises should show links in the reasoning that lead up to the conclusion. That is why it is important to choose one main conclusion first, and then work backwards to the evidence or reasons used to support it. (In light of the evidence, you may also go back and revise the conclusion.)

3) You need not depend only upon direct quotes. You may also paraphrase main premises or “reconstruct” the argument by pulling (or extracting) from direct quotes, the main reasons for the conclusion, and then finding further evidence for some of these main reasons and formulating them into sub-arguments within your standard form.

4)  The main premises (P1, P2, P3, etc.) usually include the more general reasons that support the conclusion.  The sub-premises that support each main premise usually include the more concrete evidence, such as particular examples, any statistics, etc.

5)  In reconstructing an argument, you should identify any implicit assumptions, especially as regards definitions of terms (reality assumptions) or value assumptions that may remain unstated in the actual video.  In evaluating arguments, which we will eventually do, we need to identify these implicit assumptions, because this is where the controversy may lie, or this may be where there is not sufficient evidence to support the conclusion of the argument, or this may be where there is a “gap” in the logical reasoning of the argument (which we will learn is the fallacy of “begging the question”).

6) Any argument implied in the documentary might not proceed entirely in linear order or sequence, which means the conclusion might not be stated at the end or even at the beginning of the video, given that it is explicitly stated at all.  That is another reason why you might want to paraphrase main premises or “reconstruct” the argument by pulling (or extracting) from different places in the documentary, the main reasons for the conclusion, and then finding further evidence from different places in the documentary for some of these main premises to formulate sub-arguments within your standard form.

7) Sub-arguments should be included within the “standard form” of the main argument, and should not be listed separately. The conclusion of a sub-argument is one of the main premises of the main argument.

8) Although standard form looks like an outline (in reverse), it is not an outline.  You must use complete sentences which make statements with content.  Do not say “Statistics about rape”, but rather state some of those statistics in complete sentences.  Do not use short phrases, such as “Education in Vietnam”, but rather state something about the content of education in Vietnam.  Moreover, the sub-premises (P1a, P1b, etc.) which support a main premise (P1, for example) should support that main premise, and not simply elaborate on that main premise. This is why indicator words are important – see pp. 62 – 63 in your text.   Try to set forth the logical connections between each sub-premise and premise, etc.

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